By Anna Jauhola
Kittson County has made a commitment to invest in a new North Country Food Bank facility located in Crookston, Minn. During their Tuesday, Feb. 5 meeting, the commissioners approved $25,000 in funding toward the project.
Susie Novak, executive director of the food bank, visited the commission in November to present the organization’s plans to build a new facility. At the time, she did not ask for money but that the commissioners consider a resolution of support and if they could find the funding to support the food bank.
“We’re super thankful for their support,” Novak said in a phone interview with the Enterprise on Thursday. “This project will be transformational for our organization. We’re very excited. We have been really successful in all the counties we’ve asked so far for funding.”
So far, eight counties – including Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Lake of the Woods and Norman – have all chipped in $25,000 each.
In November, the commission had already approved the 2019 budget and could not appropriate any regular funds toward the food bank.
However, after some research, they confirmed available funds from the Social Services reserve fund. Director Kathy Johnson said the fund is typically used for overages in her budget, however this year she felt the commission designating $25,000 out of that reserve fund toward the food bank would not hurt her budget.
“They have to update the food bank,” said Commissioner Theresia Gille. “It’s a long-term investment and we benefit from it.”
In Kittson County, 50 to 70 households get food from the Cornerstone Food Shelf in Hallock, which receives product from the food bank in Crookston once a month. The senior centers in Hallock and Karlstad, the Day Activities Center (DAC) in Lake Bronson, the Care and Share Pantry in Lake Bronson, and several area low-income seniors also rely on food deliveries from the food bank. Plus, the Backpack Program that Cornerstone operates also relies on food from the program.
The current North Country Food Bank facility is located on Broadway and is too small for the growing need. Novak said the building has been deemed non-compliant.
The organization serves a 21-county area in northwest Minnesota, including Grand Forks County in North Dakota, which is a 15,000 square mile service area.
The total cost for the project is $6 million. Novak said they have $3 million in bonding funds from the state, but North Country Food Bank must match those funds to receive the money. She has sent out more than $1 million in grant requests and has already raised more than $1 million.
“We’ll be asking for more from counties that are more heavily populated, like Douglas, Otter Tail and Beltrami,” she said. “We’re hoping to get at least a half million from the counties.”
In other business, the commissioners:
• Approved an annual payment of $3,450 for a worker from Lutheran Social Services to provide guardianship for a county social services client.
• Approved an annual allotment of $8,562 for Tri-County Emergency Medical Service ambulance. The ambulance serves Kittson County townships of Arveson, Deerwood, Springbrook, Davis, Pelan, Norway, Jupiter and a portion of Tegner, plus the cities of Donaldson, Halma and Karlstad.
• Approved the appointment of Denise Sollund as an additional assistant county attorney for Robert M. Albrecht, recently elected county attorney.
• Approved Engineer Kelly Bengtson’s requests to advertise for a reconstruction project on County Road 10 from Highway 59 to the Roseau County line; advertise for various maintenance projects to include roadside mowing, county-wide regravel, aggregate production; and to post the opening of equipment operator internally and later advertise outside if necessary.
• Accepted, with regret, the retirement of Larry Gunnarson, motor grader operator in Karlstad. His official last day will be March 8.
• Set the time and date for the annual Board of Appeals meeting for 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 18 at the courthouse in Hallock.
• Set the time and date for the annual Tax Forfeit Property Sale for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3 also at the courthouse in Hallock.
By Anna Jauhola